Posts Tagged With: almond

Honeycomb & Chocolate Flapjacks with Marzipan Bees

I’m a huge fan of The Great British Bake Off’s 2013 champion, Frances Quinn, who captured my heart with her incredible culinary creativity when she appeared on the show. She is an idol of mine as I love how she always thinks outside the box and is constantly coming up with quirky new twists on recipes.

There are lots of brilliant cooks out there, but I’ve never come across another with Frances’s talent of taking baking to the next level by slathering it with an extra layer of fun and Willy-Wonka-like wonder. A big jam sandwich recreated in Victoria sponge, biscuit matchsticks, squirrel cake and a giant Swiss roll cigarette were among her wonderfully imaginative creations on the show, proving that it is indeed possible to combine both style and substance. I’ve never seen another contestant come close to her in terms of visual presentation before or since, despite the hundreds of showstopping bakes produced over the years.

Needless to say, I was desperate to get my hands on a copy of her book, Quinntessential Baking, when it was released and it has become a firm favourite. Instead of churning out recipes for the same old ‘best ever chocolate cake’, blueberry muffins and yet another pavlova that hardly differ from the offerings of the dozens of other cookbooks that clamour for attention among the saturated culinary market, I adore the way in which she outlines a set of base recipes and then tells you how to transform them into something wonderfully ingenious with a few simple touches. Some delightful examples include a wall of Bourbon ‘brick’ brownies, white chocolate candles, meringue swans and bonfire cupcakes with spun sugar flames. And, as a fellow lexeme lover, her cute puns and wordplay make me feel all warm and fuzzy!

Anyway, despite my rambling ode to Ms Quinn’s fabulousness, this post doesn’t actually include one of her recipes. However, the creations I’m sharing here were very much inspired by her. Some the gorgeous adornments Frances suggests in her book are marzipan bees, which I’ve copied here and which inspired the idea of honeycomb flapjacks. I realise it’s hardly the most original concept in history, but I like to think of them as a little homage to the Queen of Creative Baking. And they taste absolutely bee-rilliant (sorry…)!

20160416_115706

INGREDIENTS – makes 12 large or 18 small flapjacks

For the flapjacks:

  • 130g/4 oz butter or margarine
  • 170g/6 oz brown sugar
  • 3 tbsp honey
  • 255g/9 oz oats
  • 4 x standard Crunchie bars, chopped into small cubes (as in the picture below)Untitled

For the bees:

  • 3 tbsp marzipan (approx.)
  • Chocolate or black writing icing
  • 10 flaked almonds

METHOD

For the flapjacks:

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees C (or 160 fan) and line a rectangular baking tin with parchment paper.
  2. Melt the butter/margarine, sugar and honey together – either in a saucepan on the hob or in a large mixing bowl in the microwave – until smooth.
  3. Stir in the oats and chopped up Crunchie bars until the oats are all evenly coated.20160409_162606
  4. Pour the mixture into the prepared tin and pop in the oven for around 15-20 minutes until the edges are slightly brown (the mixture will will firm up as it cools)
  5. Leave to cool on a wire rack and then cut into bars with a sharp knife. If you’re very patient you could cut them into individual hive-esque hexagon shapes!

For the bees:

  1. Tear off pieces of marzipan around the size of a 50p piece and roll into balls with your palms.
  2. Use the writing icing to pipe three horizontal stripes and two eyes, as in the picture.
  3. Gently push two flaked almonds into each bee so that they resemble wings.
  4. Arrange artistically on top of your flapjacks!
Image of Quinntessential Baking book copyright Amazon.co.uk
Advertisements
Categories: flapjacks, Traybakes | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Iris Tart

Our lovely and amazingly hardworking intern at work from the Netherlands, Iris, sadly left us a couple of weeks ago. To mark the occasion, I wanted to make her a genuine Dutch ‘vlaai’, which is a traditional tart made with fruit and a yeasted dough and topped with a distinctive lattice pattern.

Unfortunately, I only had a couple of hours to create one so I cheated and used an American recipe for a (supposedly) Dutch almond lattice tart with apricot jam that I found online and used regular shortcrust pastry instead of a dough that involved proving, kneading etc. The ingredients were pretty much all in tablespoons which was a bit frustrating (ever tried precisely measuring out a tablespoon of solid marzipan?!) and I didn’t have quite a few of the required ingredients so I ended up improvising and making up my own version. It took quite a while to cook in the oven, the top becoming ever browner while the middle remained soggy as I panicked that I’d incinerated it, convinced the finished product was going to end up an outright insult to the good people of the Netherlands.

Anyway, as is so often the case with cooking, it turned out fabulously and received lots of compliments from my colleagues. Despite its success, it’s certainly not authentic Dutch cuisine so I decided to christen it with its own unique name, Iris Tart, in her honour. I’ll certainly be making it again and will think of her when I do!

CYoUOxoW8AE2IAP

INGREDIENTS

For the pastry:

  • 340g/12 oz plain flour
  • 2 tbsp brown sugar
  • 170g/6 oz butter
  • 2 tbsp milk
  • 1 tsp cinnamon

For the filling:

  • 115g/4 oz butter
  • 130g/4.5 oz marzipan (+ extra if you wish to use for decorations)
  • 3 large eggs
  • 85g/3 oz caster/granulated sugar
  • 45g/1.5 oz plain flour
  • 150g/5 oz dried apricots, snipped into small pieces
  • Sprinkling of demerara sugar

METHOD

For the pastry:

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees C (or 160 fan), grease a large heatproof flan dish with butter/margarine and place the apricots in a jug of boiling water to soak.
  2. Place the flour, sugar and cinnamon in a large mixing bowl and then rub the butter into the mixture with your fingertips until breadcrumb-type bits form. Add the milk and form into a ball of dough. If it’s too sticky add some more flour and if it’s too dry and crumbly add a splash more milk.
  3. Wrap the pastry in clingfilm and chill in the fridge for at least 25 minutes.

For the filling:

  1. About 5-10 minutes before the pastry’s chilling time is up, beat the butter, eggs and sugar together in a bowl.
  2. Grate the marzipan block into the mixture (you may want to chill it for a bit if it’s too squishy to grate) and then fold in the flour and soaked apricot pieces.
  3. Remove the pastry from the fridge and roll out on a floured surface with a rolling pin until it’s about 0.5cm thick. Carefully transfer onto the prepared flan dish and gently press down into the fluted bits. Trim off the excess pastry with a knife.
  4. Squish the offcuts back together and roll out again. Cut into 9 strips, each around 1 inch wide and long enough to lie across the tart.
  5. Pour the filling into the flan dish and then carefully arrange the pastry strips in a lattice pattern on the top – ‘glue’ them together with a bit of water on your fingertip if needs be.
  6. Sprinkle the tart with some demerara sugar and then place in the oven for around 35-40 minutes until the top is golden brown and the filling is cooked through.
  7. Transfer onto a wire rack to cool and decorate with extra marzipan adornments if you fancy. Enjoy the tart cold as it is or serve warm with a bit of cream or ice cream.

20160114_105313

Categories: Other Treats, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Stollen Biscotti

I know I’m cutting it a bit fine posting my one brand new edible festive creation late on Christmas Eve Eve but these biscotti are so fabulous that I think they warrant a fashionably late arrival. I have been doing a fair amount of yuletide baking recently but everything bar these have used recipes from books/magazines (which is unusual for me), hence why I haven’t posted them on here.

I was originally going to make the divine-sounding stollen muffins from the November issue of Good Food, but the only problem with muffins is that they’re quite heavy and I wanted to bake something lighter to enjoy with a cuppa after the hefty indulgence that is Christmas lunch, hence the idea for a biscotti version came to me. I used to hate marzipan as a child and have distinct memories of painstakingly picking it off every slice of wedding or Christmas cake while carefully salvaging the sweet, sticky white icing. However, I’ve started to love it in my old age, and I now can’t imagine a December without stollen.

This biscotti recipe and technique are very similar to the wonderfully versatile ones I blogged about here: https://cloud9point1.wordpress.com/2015/06/08/fabulous-biscotti/. Despite this, I feel that their rich, festive flavour and all-round fruity, almondy deliciousness means they deserve a separate post. Again, feel free to experiment with ingredients and flavours – you could try adding pistachios, candied peel and/or chopped dates, among other things, to create a similarly Christmassy taste if you’re not a fan of marzipan.

I’ll sign off now by wishing a very MERRY CHRISTMAS to everyone reading this, and a huge thank you for supporting my little blog 🙂 Here’s to more culinary fun in 2016!

20151221_162156

INGREDIENTS – makes approx. 15 pieces

  • 180g/6 oz self-raising flour
  • 80g/3 oz caster or granulated sugar
  • 2 tbsp ground almonds
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tbsp milk
  • 40g/1.5 oz dried cranberries
  • 40g/1.5 oz sultanas
  • 40g/1.5 oz marzipan, chopped into small cubes
  • 1 tsp almond extract
  • 0.5 tsp baking powder

METHOD

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees C (or 160 fan) and line a large flat baking tray with parchment paper.
  2. Mix the flour, sugar, ground almonds and baking powder together in a large bowl then add the cranberries, sultanas, marzipan cubes and almond extract.
  3. Beat the egg and milk together for around 1 minute and pour into the mixture.
  4. Mix with a wooden spoon and then your hands until the ingredients come together to form a stiff dough. If it’s too sticky add a little more flour and if it’s too dry and crumbly add a splash more milk.
  5. Roll the dough into a sausage shape about 25-30cm long and place on the baking tray then gently flatten it until it’s about 2cm tall.

    20161224_134355.jpg

  6. Place in the oven for around 25-30 minutes until the dough is firm with a crust but still fairly pale.
  7. Remove from the oven and reduce the heat to 140 degrees C then allow the dough to cool for around 10 minutes before sawing into pieces about 2cm thick using a serrated knife.
  8. Place the biscuits back on the baking tray and cook for a further 25 minutes or until lightly browned then leave to cool before enjoying with tea, coffee or a festive tipple!
Categories: Biscuits/Cookies, Festive, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Cherry Bakewell & Cherry Chocolate Scones

Apologies for the lack of action on my blog recently – I’ve been back in my hometown doing some office temping at my old workplace for the last three weeks and left all my recipes back in my flat in London! I’ve also not been doing so much baking recently due to the sweltering weather (I’m not good with heat; I’m a bit of a summer grinch!), although I’m looking forward to making cakes for both my best friend and my boyfriend who have birthdays in the next couple of weeks.

Anyway, here’s a recipe I’ve been meaning to post for a while. I love scones as they’re so darn simple to make – nothing but flour, butter and milk in their most basic form – and they’re so versatile, so I decided to do decadent a twist on the traditional plain kind for Sunday Baking Club’s (@SundayBakeClub on Twitter) charity cherry theme a while back. Both types came out really well and tasted delicious with a bit of butter or just on their own (mountains of jam and clotted cream not required here unless you have an incredibly sweet tooth!) The chocolate ones had a sweet, sticky texture and the bakewell ones had a lovely marzipan-like flavour. Perfect to enjoy as part of an alfresco afternoon tea!
20150523_162427

INGREDIENTS – makes approx. 8-10

For the cherry bakewell scones:

  • 250g/9 oz self-raising flour
  • 55g/2 oz butter
  • 25g/1 oz caster/granulated sugar
  • 150ml/5 fl oz milk
  • 40g/1.5 oz glace cherries, chopped
  • 2 tsp almond essence
    To decorate:
  • 2 tsp almond essence
  • 1 tbsp icing sugar
  • 4-5 glace cherries, halved

For the cherry chocolate scones:

  • 250g/9 oz self-raising flour
  • 55g/2 oz butter
  • 25g/1 oz caster/granulated sugar
  • 150ml/5 fl oz milk
  • 2 tbsp cocoa powder
  • 40g/1.5 oz glace cherries, chopped
  • 40g/1.5 oz dark or milk chocolate, chopped
  • 0.5 tsp vanilla extract
    To decorate:
  • Handful of flaked almonds
  • 2 tsp icing sugar
  • Few drops of milk or water

METHOD

For the scones:

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees C (or 160 fan) and line a large rectangular baking tray with parchment paper.
  2. Place the flour, sugar and chopped cherries (plus the cocoa powder and chopped chocolate if making the chocolate scones) in a large mixing bowl and make a well in the middle.
  3. Place the butter, milk and almond essence (if making the bakewell scones) or vanilla extract (if making the chocolate scones) in the well and roughly mix with a knife.
  4. Rub the liquid into the dry ingredients with your hands until a pliable dough forms. If the mixture is too sticky, add a little more flour and if it’s too crumbly, add a little more milk.
  5. Place the dough on a floured surface and roughly pat until it’s around 3cm/1in in thickness, then cut out scones with a large round or fluted cookie cutter. Squish the offcuts together and repeat until all the dough is used.
  6. Place the scones on the prepared baking tray and bake in the oven for around 15 minutes until they’re slightly brown on the bottom.
  7. Leave the scones to cool on a wire rack. They can be frozen at this stage if you wish.

For the cherry bakewell decorations:

  1. Mix the icing sugar and almond essence together thoroughly until a runny mixture forms.
  2. Drizzle in a criss-cross lattice pattern over the cooled scones then top each one with half a glace cherry.

For the cherry chocolate decorations:

  1. Mix the icing sugar and milk/water together thoroughly until a runny mixture forms.
  2. Place a small blob in the centre of the top of each scone using a teaspoon, then arrange 5 flaked almonds in the shape of flower petals using the icing as ‘glue’. Finish each flower with a tiny blob of icing in the centre.
Categories: Chocolate, Other Treats | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Fabulous Biscotti

Originally posted 03/03/2015

I first made these lovely crisp biccies, which go perfectly with a cuppa, with raisins and dark chocolate chips using a brilliant recipe from the Hairy Dieters as inspiration when on the hunt for lower fat/calorie bakes that still delivered a sweet hit. They turned out fantastically and have since become a bit of a signature bake of mine. I love how easy and versatile this recipe is – once you’ve got the basic biscotti dough you can add pretty much anything you want for flavour: chocolate, spices, citrus zest, dried fruit, nuts…the list is endless!

The original version made with orange zest, dark chocolate chips and dried cranberries weighed in at only 53 calories a piece so, although I can’t give an exact estimate when other ingredients are added, the chances are they’re still reasonably sin-free provided you don’t go too mad with the sugary extras!

I know traditionally biscotti is made with almonds but I always use almond extract as I love the delicate flavour it gives. By all means use flaked almonds if you prefer though.

I made these cherry and white chocolate ones for Valentine’s Day 🙂

INGREDIENTS – makes approx. 20 pieces

  • 180g/6 oz self-raising flour
  • 80g/3 oz caster sugar
  • 1 egg + 1 egg white*
  • 40g/1.5 oz white chocolate chips (or other chocolate/ingredient of choice)
  • 40g/1.5 oz glace cherries, chopped into chocolate chip sized pieces (or other dried fruit/ingredient of choice)
  • 1 tsp almond extract
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • Half a tsp baking powder

METHOD

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees C (or 160 fan) and line a large flat baking tray with parchment paper.
  2. Mix the dry ingredients together in a large bowl then add the chocolate chips, cherry pieces and almond extract.
  3. Beat the egg and egg white together along with the vanilla extract for around 1 minute and pour into the mixture.
  4. Mix with a wooden spoon and then your hands until the ingredients come together to form a stiff dough. If it’s too sticky add a little more flour and if it’s too dry and crumbly add a splash of milk.
  5. Roll the dough into a sausage shape about 25-30cm long and place on the baking tray then gently flatten it until it’s about 2cm tall.
  6. Place in the oven for around 25-30 minutes until the dough is firm with a crust but still fairly pale.
  7. Remove from the oven and reduce the heat to 140 degrees C then allow the dough to cool for around 10 minutes before sawing into pieces about 2cm thick using a serrated knife.
  8. Place the biscuits back on the baking tray and cook for a further 25 minutes or until lightly browned then leave to cool before enjoying with tea or coffee.

*Please don’t throw the spare yolk away if at all possible! It can be used in homemade burgers, Welsh rarebit or eggy bread, among other things (sorry, I just really hate waste!)

Edit: I made these decadent double chocolate biscotti for my friend’s birthday by following the above recipe but omitting the almond extract, replacing two heaped tablespoons of flour with cocoa powder and substituting dark chocolate chips in place of the cherries:

Categories: Biscuits/Cookies, Healthier | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Cherry Bakewell Cupcakes

Originally posted 07/06/2014

I’ve always thought there’s something so cute and jolly about (albeit not strictly traditional) Mr Kipling style individual bakewell tarts, with their dazzlingly white fondant icing and bright red cherry decorations sitting atop jam-filled sponge and pastry. I’m not even a fan of almonds but I love them! They were the inspiration for these pretty and easy to make cupcakes, which I think scream retro village fete cake stall. I’m always reluctant to use glace icing due to being paranoid its runniness will make my creations look like a three-year-old was let loose in the kitchen but luckily keeping it at quite a thick consistency meant they looked a tad more sophisticated.

INGREDIENTS – makes approx. 20-23

For the cakes:

  • 170g/6 oz self-raising flour
  • 100g/3.5 oz ground almonds
  • 225g/8 oz caster/granulated sugar
  • 225g/8 oz butter/margarine
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 tsp almond essence

For the glace icing/jam filling:

  • 115g/4 oz icing sugar
  • Half a tsp of almond essence
  • Water or milk
  • 12-14 tsp (approx.) strawberry or raspberry jam (raspberry is traditional but I used strawberry as my friend at work is allergic to raspberries)

METHOD

For the cakes::

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees C (or 160 fan) and line two baking trays with 18 paper cases.
  2. Whisk the margarine/butter and sugar together in a large mixing bowl until pale then whisk in the eggs.
  3. Fold in the flour, ground almonds and almond essence until a batter of a soft dropping consistency has formed.
  4. Drop the mixture into the cake cases using a teaspoon until they’re each about three quarters full.
  5. Pop in the oven and bake for about 12-15 minutes until a cocktail stick inserted into the sponge comes out clean.
  6. When baked, place on a wire rack and leave to cool. At this stage the cakes can be frozen for decorating at a later date if you wish.

For the filling & icing:

  1. If your cupcakes have risen up to form dome tops in the oven and you’d prefer a flat surface to put the icing on to avoid excessive drizzling, use a serrated knife to slice the tops of the cakes off (don’t throw them away – scoff them later!)
  2. Using a teaspoon or small sharp knife, carefully cut a small hole (about 2cm deep by 2cm wide) in the top of each cupcake. Don’t discard the bits you’ve cut out!
  3. Drop about a teaspoon of jam into each hole and then gently push the sponge part that was cut out back into each one so that the tops of the cakes are even.
  4. Place the icing sugar into a bowl then add the almond essence and enough milk or water and stir to form a thick but slightly runny mixture.
  5. Spread the icing onto the top of each cupcake in a thick, even layer using a teaspoon or pallette knife and top with a glace cherry.
Categories: cupcakes | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.